Marking a milestone in the annals of the indigenous banking history, President Mahinda Rajapaksa ceremonially opened the State-owned Sri Lanka Savings Bank (SLSB) in Borella yesterday.
Addressing a simple opening ceremony at the bank, President Rajapaksa noted that this too was an integral part of the Mahinda Chintanaya, the budget and the banking policies of the Government, being fulfilled and seeing the light of day, while simultaneously eradicating terrorism in all its manifestations.
The country had also launched mega-development projects in an array of infrastructural-development fields, and meanwhile consolidated the State sector, enhancing salaries too, he said.
`Several vital spheres such as insurance and banking were privatised by the past regimes. We now have to reverse this whole process and re-establish a truly Sri Lankan and indigenous economy and institutional framework where local talent and expertise is recognised, appreciated and utilised in its administration. This is an initial step forward in the right direction,` the President said.
He said this was a result of the pledge given by him, during the pre-Presidential Election era, to the 14,600 odd depositors who had been made destitute overnight, following the sudden collapse and closure of the former Pramuka Bank in 2002.
The depositors who had placed their hard-earned monies with the defunct Pramuka Bank, had used all means at their disposal to recover their monies, from the ill-fated bank which was heading for definite liquidation. Following their miserable failure, they had accessed him and made a fervent appeal when he was the Prime Minister.
That plea had been made a reality by the re-incarnation of a fully-fledged, Government-owned and Government-guaranteed bank destined to have a bright and prosperous future.
The National Savings Bank (NSB) too had been inaugurated under similar conditions and constraints and subject to much criticism, but gradually developed itself into a formidable bank to reckon with, in the fiercely-competitive banking sector.
`The SLSB should seek new customers from the Co-operatives and the `Government Servants` sector, instead of striving to attract customers of the other state-sector banks such as the NSB, People`s Bank and the Bank of Ceylon.
No one should have any qualms whatsoever as to their monies placed at SLSB, as its future security is assured and guaranteed by the government, the Finance Ministry and the Treasury,` he asserted.
The President reminisced that yesterday was also an epoch-making day in the country`s democratic history, as no significant incidents related to election violence had been reported pre or during the local government polls in Batticaloa.
This, the President pointed out that the Opposition parties were viewing with malice, hatred and jealousy which need not to be commented upon. He urged the public to be extra vigilant and cautious in their daily and routinal functions, as the terrorists may strive to create mayhem in their desperation.
SLSB Chairman Ariyarathna Dahanayake and JHU Parliamentarian Ven Athuraliye Rathana Thera also spoke